What You Should Read Next

9 fiction favorites for a healthy dose of escapism

Posted Dec 07, 2017

Adobe Stock Images
Source: Adobe Stock Images


 

As the days get shorter and darker and the news cycle gets more brutal, you may be in search of a healthy dose of escapism. In solidarity I share with you my favorite reads of 2017.

Fever Dream
by Samanta Schweblin, Megan McDowell 

Utterly terrifying and nearly perfect. Captures the horror of mothering, of loving a little being so intensely that the world, so full of threat, becomes nearly unbearable to live in. Also captures the terribleness that happens when capitalist greed overrides the protection of the vulnerable (children, animals, the environment). Does so in gripping, sparse, urgent prose. 

Amazon/GoodReads Cover
Source: Amazon/GoodReads Cover

Dear Mr. M
by Herman Koch

Dark and twisty and deeply satisfying. With a solid thread of Irving-esque meta-commentary on the writer's life that is more fun than Irving because it is both winky-er and more devastating in its analysis.

Amazon/GoodReads Cover
Source: Amazon/GoodReads Cover

Lab Girl
by Hope Jahren

A book of non-fiction that reads like fiction (a.k.a., the best kind, and also a life goal), inspirational science, and the best platonic love story since Frodo & Sam and Christina & Meredith.

Hope and Bill 4-eva.

Amazon/GoodReads Cover
Source: Amazon/GoodReads Cover

Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid

Wonderfully written, important (moving depiction of the refugee experience), compulsively readable. 

Amazon/GoodReads Cover
Source: Amazon/GoodReads Cover

Bright Air Black
by David Vann

Somehow manages to portray Medea sympathetically without shying away from any of her rage or brutality, in gorgeous electric prose. The true tragedy seems to be the inability of the world to give her the power she earns and Jason's failure to match her ferocity and brilliance—though while the book doesn't contain actual mythic/mystical elements, her ferocity and brilliance are also terrible, much in the way of the gods.

Amazon/GoodReads Cover
Source: Amazon/GoodReads Cover

Borne
by Jeff VanderMeer 

Oh, BORNE. 

Truly inventive—all the writings chops present in Southern Reach, now with comprehensible plot. 

Also, Borne.

Amazon/GoodReads Cover
Source: Amazon/GoodReads Cover

The Changeling
by Victor LaValle

Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak was one of my earliest and all-time most beloved books as a child. It would be fair to say I was obsessed with it. I still have it mostly memorized, and certain phrases and cadences will trigger it to play in my head even now.

I saved my childhood copy all these years for when I had a child of my own, only to have my husband hide it because he found it so disturbing and didn't think our daughter should be exposed to it. (But we found it - and it became one of my daughter's favorites too).

Victor Lavalle is one of my favorite new writers, and the intersection of horror and fairy tale one of my favorite flavors of fiction.

So the fact that he wrote a book in that genre starring and inspired by the story of Outside Over There

Four stars before I even started reading.

The extra star is for the story, the writing, and the characters.
 

Amazon/GoodReads Cover
Source: Amazon/GoodReads Cover

The Bear and the Nightingale 
by Katherine Arden

So satisfying - full of honeycakes and winter and dark-n-twisty monks and Russian folklore - I dreamt (probably?) that a domovoi was sleeping on my bed last night and woke up wanting to plait my dog's fur and feed her apples. Rollicking good ride.

Amazon/GoodReads Cover
Source: Amazon/GoodReads Cover

Himself
by Jess Kidd 

Superbly entertaining. Playful but dark old Irish murder mystery with a magical realism bent.

Amazon/GoodReads Cover
Source: Amazon/GoodReads Cover

Those were my favorite fictional reads of 2017. What were yours?